The holidays are upon us, which means two things: brain aneurysms from being subjected to ludicrous amounts of Christmas music and cold, miserable weather. Because we like to be festive here at Svbterranean, and because we are super cliched, we have decided to dedicate this month to our favorite black metal recordings (we have to stay true to the “v” in our name, you know?).
Presenting Blog Aus Nord (yeah, I know, we’re hilarious); a month-long black metal highlight series in which we show our love to our personal favorite KVLT records. The setup is just like that of our mathcore series in March and our metalcore series in September, except this time there’s more tremolo-picking and Satan stuff. Just like our similar “retrospective” series, we hope you rediscover old greats or find something new you have never heard before.
We hope you enjoy this series and we encourage you to share your thoughts on these albums and how we’re not black metal enough.
Not very good art, but at least they fixed this on the vinyl reissue.
So, when I was in college, I worked at a shitty radio station. Not that the experience was shitty, just that our signal literally barely reached the parking lot of campus. This was before the age of internet radio being a huge thing, or podcasts, or anything. Promos came in a little paper sleeve, and if you were lucky enough to get a promo for a band you liked, there wasn’t social media to tell everyone about it. Getting labels to send us shit was mostly a fruitless endeavor, especially when I’d mention that our listener base was about….five people.
Well, I was fortunate, because in 2004, Candlelight decided that because of their proximity to campus, or some other divine (or unholy, grim hails warbrothers and shit) reason, they wanted to send us promos. I walked into the station one day and opened a promo from them, and there sat, in a fairly nondescript sleeve Blut Aus Nord’s The Work Which Transforms God.
I was mostly a neophyte to extreme metal. I’d dipped my toe. Big Brother skateboarding magazine led me to Norwegian black metal and I loved Emperor and Burzum, but death metal didn’t do it for me, and I wasn’t quite sure where to go next with most black metal. I’d heard stuff, I’d dabbled, and I’d enjoyed what I’d heard, but I couldn’t really say I had a solid grasp on anything too far outside of the Gothenburg stuff, Dissection, Neurosis and Isis, some hardcore, and some basic death metal.
This record fucking changed everything. From the moment I heard the grindy, industrial sounding drums, the haunting dissonant riffs, and the absolutely inhuman vocals, I knew I had landed on a whole new world. This was evil music. It didn’t feel forced or theatrical; it just had this pervasive sense of menace. I listened to it three times in a row the day I got the promo, and I’ve followed Blut Aus Nord ever since. They’ve since made records that maybe, I like more, but nothing ever caught me like the first time I heard this. There’s not a lot of things anchoring The Work Which Transforms God to the genre, outside of the vocals, and the occasional blast beat. The riffs aren’t traditional, by any means, despite the now 14 years of people trying to make it the gold standard of using dissonance and trem picking in conjunction to create “black metal”. I’ve since become a huge fan of the genre, but frankly, nothing since has ever made me feel as creeped the fuck out as my first listen of this record.